State: New South Wales, Australia
Issued on: Return
Date of presentation: 19/09/1900, 01/08/1901
Number issued: 8
Gold medals, to:
620 Trooper Thomas PESTELL
533 Private Hubert WATTS
630 Sergeant George Franklin SMITH
1369 Trooper David Henry TAYLOR
598 Trooper Richard PESTELL
1210 Sergeant Luke BICE
Trooper T. PESTELL had already received a medal from Nowra & Shoalhaven on 19/09/1900 (see above), and Corporal SMITH had received a medal from Tomerong on 30/03/1901. Did Sergeant CLARKE and Trooper CLARK also receive medals?
SONS OF SHOALHAVEN.
PESTELL AND WATTS PICNICKED AND WELCOMED.
MERRY-MAKING AT MEROO MEADOW.
On Wednesday last the people of Meroo Meadow and Cambewarra, strongly supported by residents of other district localities, gave a very warm welcome to Trooper Thos. PESTELL of the Berry Lancers, and Private WATTS, of the N.S.W. Mounted Infantry, who have lately been invalided home from the South African war. Greater enthusiasm could not be shown on the home-coming of any hero than was manifested by the monster gathering of picnickers at Mr John Muller's grounds on this occasion. There were over 1000 persons present, including a good percentage of ladies, and all joined heartily in demonstrating the universal feeling of gladness at the safe return of the two Shoalhaven boys who bravely went out to the war. With the principal guest were Trooper KNIGHT (Berry Lancers), Trooper DARE (Sydney Lancers), and Privates POPE and R.E. McLELLAND (N.S.W. Mounted Infantry), the last-mentioned being a nephew of Mr W. McLelland, Bolong.
Each of these recently returned from South Africa, and all, excepting Trooper KNIGHT and Private McLELLAND, wore the uniform of their regiments. There was a liberal display of bunting about the picnic ground, and over the entrance to it was the motto “Welcome Back to Tom and Bert”, whilst an exuberant party from Nowra arrived on the ground with a flag flying from their coach bearing the federation motto “One People, One Destiny, One Flag”. Every soul at Meroo Meadow made merry that day. Young men and maids by their exhibition of gleefulness spoke pæans of praise for the safe deliverance of the in-school mates from the dangers of cruel war; their elders, and the parents of the returned soldiers manifestly were unpardonably proud of the demonstration, and quite relieved of the tension of their anxieties over the long-absent ones; business men, among them two Nowra aldermen of usually unexcitable nature, watched with unfeigned delight the frolics of a party of drop-handkerchief gamesters in the afternoon — all, in fact, by their unbounded enthusiasm made the meeting one that should be long remembered. The Berry Band, under Mr F.W. Tidd, played selections during the day. After luncheon, which was served on the green sward, the presentations to Trooper PESTELL and Private WATTS were made from a drag which served as a platform, and upon which were seated (beside the guests) Messrs Noakes, F.G. Sinclair, and Allan McLean (of the Demonstration Committee), Dr Hay, and Captain Marriott.
Mr. W.H. Noakes said they were met on that very memorable occasion to welcome back those brave men who went to South Africa to fight for that grand, old flag, the Union Jack. (Cheers). The men welcomed home that day were deserving of great praise for what they had done, and appreciation of their services must be all the keener from the knowledge of the hardships they had undergone, — hardship the nature of which tongue could not tell. (Applause). These men formed part of a detachment of the Berry Lancers established at Berry under Mr Alex. Hay, that went to England for a course of training and when returning they were asked if they would volunteer for the war which had then broken out in South Africa. “Yes”, they replied, “and put us in a place where we can distinguish ourselves”. (Applause). Australia was proud of such, men — men of grit and courage — and he was pleased that he was next door to being an Australian. (Applause). The conduct of these and other colonials in the South African campaign showed that in the event of an invasion of this country, the Australians could be depended upon to be at once to the fore and to acquit themselves creditably. (Applause). It was a glad day for Shoalhaven to welcome back two of the Australians who had fought for the flag and in doing so had lived on a biscuit and a drink of putrid water per day. (Applause). On behalf of the subscribers and other friends he then had pleasure in presenting to the returned soldiers the addresses and other souvenirs prepared for them. (Cheers).
Mr Allan McLean then read the addresses, which were afterwards handed over by Mr Noakes amidst much cheering. The addresses ran as follows: —
To TROOPER PESTELL, N.S.W. Lancers.
Dear Sir, — We, the undersigned, on behalf of the residents of Meroo Meadow and Cambewarra and other friends, offer you a most cordial welcome home from South Africa after an absence of 18 months. We ask you to accept this souvenir as a token of our esteem and our admiration of that patriotic spirit exhibited by you in going to England and undergoing a course of military training, and then, on the outbreak of the Boer war, being one of the first to volunteer your services to fight for the Empire in South Africa, where you fought in most of the important battles. We assure you that it was with feelings of pride that we, from time to time, read the reports of the daring deeds done by you and your comrades. We feel thankful that Providence in His goodness has spared you to return to your home, and in conclusion we wish you a speedy recovery, long life and happiness. — (Signed) William Henry Noakes, chairman of committee; Ivor Sinclair, Secretary; Allan McLean, treasurer. Sept. 19, 1900.
To PRIVATE HUBERT WATTS, N.S.W, Mounted Infantry.
Dear Sir, — We, the undersigned, on behalf of the residents of Cambewarra and Meroo Meadow and other friends, offer you a most cordial welcome home from South Africa. We ask you to accept this souvenir as a token of the high esteem in which you are held by your numerous friends, and of our appreciation of that patriotic spirit shown by you in going to South Africa to fight the battles of our noble Queen. We feel thankful that Providence has spared you to return to your home. Though you have escaped injury at the bands of the enemy, we regret that you have been stricken by that scourge of the battlefield, enteric fever. Wishing you a speedy recovery, long life, and happiness, on behalf of friends and admirers, we beg to subscribe ourselves, your sincere well-wishers, — (Signed) William Henry Noakes, chairman of committee; Ivor Sinclair, secretary; Allan McLean, treasurer, 19th Sept., 1900.
Captain Marriott presented Trooper PESTELL and Private WATTS each with a handsome gold pendant, suitably inscribed. Captain Marriott said he had much pleasure. as representative of the Nowra volunteers as well as the town of Nowra, and in being present that day to welcome the honoured guests. It was now nine or ten months since thousands of the people of the country saw various contingents of colonial troops off from Sydney, many of them never to return. And it was an extreme pleasure to all persons assembled there that day to be able to welcome several of those who did return — to welcome them back to Australia, home, and beauty. (Cheers).
He therefore regarded it as an honour to present those tokens of the people's esteem for the services rendered by the recipients to the Empire and their noble Queen. He trusted that they would live long to wear the medals with pleasure to themselves and honour to their Queen and country. (Applause).
Welcome to Returned Soldiers.
A MONSTER DEMONSTRATION.
The public conversazione and smoke concert given at the Nowra School of Arts on Thursday evening last in honour of soldiers returned from the South African war were eminently successful, and attracted the largest audience secured by any local organisation for a long time past. The conversazione was announced to begin at 7.30, but the hall was filled fifteen minutes before that time. The gallery, too, was packed, and many persons had to be content with standing room. The large audience was representative of all parts of the district and included many ladies. The returned soldiers whose names are given below, and who occupied seats on the platform during the evening, appeared in khaki uniform and, with one or two exceptions, wore the service medal recently presented in Sydney. They were lustily cheered as they entered the hall together and took their seats. The guests were —
Corporal Alex SMITH.
The soldiers shook hands with the chairman before taking their seats. The Rev. R. Inglis, M.A., who presided, read apologies for non-attendance from Mr M.F. Morton, M.L.A, Lieutenant E.A. Blow (Berry Lancers), President Lovegrove (Berry Rifles), and the Rev. Harold Wheen, each of whom had an engagement elsewhere, but wished the committee a successful demonstration. An overture was played by Mr C. Harper, and then followed a stirring and appropriate song, “Angus McDonald” by Mrs Cordery, which elicited much applause.
The Chairman delivered an able and patriotic speech prior to presenting the medals. He said that he thought the presence of that large assemblage showed for one thing that the people of Shoalhaven were proud that the returned men belonged to them. (Applause). He admired alike the heroism of those men who went out to the war and of those parents, especially the mothers, who sent their sons to take part in the struggle. (Applause). He thought there was many a mother in Australia that should have a medal. He believed the feeling of patriotism was deep in the hearts of Australian mothers as that of the old Spartan who, in taking leave of a young man going to battle, said “Come home, my son, with your shield or on it”. (Applause). He rejoiced to see the troopers back looking so strong and well, and he revered the memory of those gallant men who would never come back, who had graves on the veldt. When then asked: Why all this expenditure on the war? and why send so many brave men out to conquer the small Transvaal State? they could answer that it was because the policy of magnanimity shown towards the State, which the late Mr Gladstone and other statesmen had thought would be the best — and that in the face of public opinion, — had lamentably failed. There had been ample evidence that the policy was a mistake. (Applause). The issue was the supremacy of Great Britain in South Africa, and throughout the world. It would be maintained in spite of all, and against the calculations of many who would have been glad to see the downfall of Great Britain in the war against the Boers. (Applause). The colonies, it was now generally admitted, had given the old country valuable assistance in the hour of need. The colonies, hitherto considered encumbrances to the mother country, had unmistakably proved to be the very bulwarks of the Empire. (Applause). Australians did not wait for the flag to fly at Pretoria or Bloemfontein, — (applause) — but when they saw British attack after attack being repulsed and good brave men being sacrificed, the men of the colonies came readily forward and said “We will help you, win or lose”. (Applause). The developments of the South African war had altered the balance of political power in Europe. The armed forces of South Europe were no longer facing simply two little islands but had now to face the best bone and sinew in the Empire. (Applause). When fresh history of Australia came to be written, it would not be the value of her wool product or the achievements of her sons in the field of sport, great indeed as they had been, that would have the greatest attention; it would be the spirit of self-sacrifice with which she sent forward her men to help England in her hour of need. (Applause). He had been called upon to present to returned soldiers a number of medals as a token of the people's appreciation of the men's patriotic services in the war, and of the esteem in which they were held as citizens in the district. He trusted that they would wear them a long time, and that if called upon again to give their services in the British cause, the medals would be an inspiration to them.
The chairman then, amidst applause, presented medals to those of the men who had not previously been so honoured in the district, each man coming to the salute as he in turn stepped forward to receive the souvenir and again when he resumed his seat. The recipients were Sergt. Luke BICE, Sergt. T.M. THOMSON, Sergeant Geo. SMITH, Trooper Richard PESTELL, Trooper D.H. TAYLOR, and Private T.S. BARTLETT.
Captain Alec. Hay, who was called upon by the chairman to say a few words, said he felt highly honoured in having been given the opportunity to be present to do honour to whom honour was due. He was pleased with the achievements of the Australian soldiers, more particularly our own boys. The chairman had given an able address, and he (Captain Hay) had no desire to take up time and interfere with the entertainment that evening. But he wished to add a few words to the expressions of welcome to the returned men. He would have sacrificed a lot rather than be absent from that reception. (Applause). The returned men had sacrificed very much, and when the Empire again called he was sure her sons would once more rally around the old flag and fight under the standard of Old England. (Applause). It was to be regretted that there had been difficulties placed in the way of the men getting their pay in Sydney, but such had arisen through a misunderstanding, and he felt sure everything would be put right in time. He was certain that the people would see that all returned men would have their pay and ample reward for all that they had done. (Applause). He believed that the Defence Bill introduced by the Federal Parliament was not going to be any but a most useful scheme, under which there would be a new commander. They would have to step in a right direction, and he hoped the authorities would consider the necessity of doing something more than simply putting a gun into a man's hand and telling him to fire away. (Applause). We wanted organisation, and to avoid anything approaching the pitiable conditions noticed in South Africa at one time during the war. We must have a complete form of organisation in federal defence, and he would like to see the Empire, which had had good assistance from Australia, sacrifice the amount expended on the auxiliary squadron and hand it back to the federal Minister as a quid pro quo. (Applause). The future historian would credit Australia as being an important factor in deciding the South African war, for it was acknowledged that the Australian by his mobility and powerful resources had aided largely the campaign. (Applause). He felt sure that the military spirit infused in Australia would do good, and that as a result of the present war, Australia would have, if needed again, ten times as many men offering as those who had gone to South Africa. He was proud of the Australian soldiery, with one branch of which he had been associated; and he trusted that things would be so ordered as to let the young men feel that it was an honour to belong to either the volunteer or partially-paid forces. (Applause). He was glad to see the men looking so well, and he heartily congratulated them on their safe return. He felt sure they would always be honoured in the colony, and more especially in their own district. (Applause). It was now very nearly two years since the first of our men stepped on to South African shores. The war had been a wretched war. It was at first calculated that 30,000 men would suffice to conquer the Boers, but how short that calculation was everybody now knew. It had been the best lesson for the British army for many years, and there was great need for improvement in the intelligence department. He had no doubt that the Australians would be ready at all times to do their duty. (Applause).
Mr J. McDonald, of Burrier, also spoke a few words of welcome.
Mr W. Westbrook here sang “Soldiers of the King”, the audience taking up the chorus.
Sergeant Luke BICE, in responding, said that fighters as a rule were not talkers. He appreciated very much the reception that night, which was all the more gratifying because most of the guests were strangers to the audience. It showed that Shoalhaven people were great loyalists.
Sergeant T.M. THOMSON said he had had a hard campaign, but he valued his experience. The Australians had had to live mainly on bully beef and biscuit, but they had some chicken now and then. (Laughter). The Australians proved good in arranging for that. During the greater part of the wet season they had to sleep in the open. He could not say that he had checked any bullets. Soldiers did not stop them nowadays. They went on. (Laughter). He was very glad that he had got back, and was proud to say that he belonged to the Imperial Bushmen. (Applause). They had got the name of being second to none, and he believed they were. (Applause). The name 'Bushmen' was at first held in contempt in South Africa; they were regarded as the worst class in the world. (Laughter). But the Bushmen made their name feared. (Applause). The Australians did well in the war. “We had many hardships and not a few hard knocks”, said Sergt. THOMSON, in conclusion, “but you ought to see the other fellow”. (Laughter and applause).
Sergeant George SMITH said he would always value the medal then presented to him, not for its intrinsic value, but for the kind associations which its possession would recall and the true feeling which prompted its presentation. (Applause). Australians went forward to war at a time when it had become necessary to show the world that we had men here capable of defending their hearths and homes. They knew when away that their friends here at home were thinking of I them; and that their services had been appreciated was amply shown by this magnificent reception. Wherever he might be in future, he would always carry pleasant recollections of the people of this district.
Trooper Richard PESTELL said he thought the war was a just one. He had been thirteen months on South African soil. He was not there three months nor three days before he saw that it was so. Sergeant THOMSON had stated that he did not check a bullet. Well, he had stopped one. [Trooper PESTELL was wounded in the left thigh. – Ed.]. He did not think it necessary to say anything further. He appreciated that reception. “I could tell you a lot”, said Trooper PESTELL, with a merry twinkle in his eye, “if I had you on your own”. (Laughter).
Private BARTLETT said that if he were to speak for hours he could hot adequately express his feelings. From the bottom of his heart, he thanked one and all for the hearty reception.
Trooper D.H. TAYLOR (Numba) failed to rise when the chairman invited him to speak. He kept his seat whilst the audience applauded vociferously and called for him to “say something”. Finally the bashful young trooper rose and said: “I would rather face a volley of Mausers than attempt to speak”.
Sergeant F.H. CLARKE said he had resided in Shoalhaven a couple of years ago, and he was glad to be present that night. It was a great pleasure to see the way the Shoalhaven people had rolled up to welcome the soldiers. He deprecated some of the letters from the seat of war that had appeared in the Australian press, running down the English “Tommies” and the mounted men. He was convinced that no nation in the world could put a finer body of men in the field than Great Britain— (applause) — although the English men in the South African campaign did not adapt themselves to the work required so readily as did the Australian Bushmen. The latter were after a month's drill as good as any other men. He spoke of the good assistance the Australians had been in the transport service, and he eulogised Lord Methuen, who he said was the most popular general.
The soldiers were loudly applauded as they concluded their addresses.
Mr H.D. Morton gave a spirited rendering of “Sons of New Britannia”, and Miss Ikin followed also with a song.